Albany holds hurricane preparedness exercise - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany holds hurricane preparedness exercise

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  The season's first tropical storm churning in the Gulf and headed toward Mexico. And while it's no threat to our area, it's the time of year when emergency workers practice hurricane preparedness.

GEMA's full scale exercise includes agencies from the state's Emergency Management Agencies to the American Red Cross.

About 400 state, local, and volunteer personnel are taking part in these exercises. They're walking though this exercise as if a real storm was threatening Georgia's east coast and it's expected to teach these agencies what they're lacking when it comes to dealing with a hurricane. 

Hurricane Soffie, soon to be a category two storm, is threatening Georgia's coast in the state's drill.

The local chapter of the Red Cross is talking with other chapters statewide about their needs for this mock storm should 45,000 people need to be evacuated from costal cities.

"Even our biggest chapter have gaps somewhere so we want to try and resolve any issues like that prior to the hurricane itself,"  said ARC Flint River Chapter Disaster Director Bud Greco.

While in this scenario Albany won't play a big role, cities like Tifton and Moultrie could see thousands of evacuees. So volunteers are working on what's needed.

Albany's role in a major disaster is expanding. A 50 bed mobile hospital will soon be a permanent addition.

"We're going to set it up and do some training in the Civic Center and just give people in the community and opportunity to see and have some hands on time," said EMA Deputy Director Jim Vaught.

Tropical Storm Alex is already threatening the United States, as Georgia's drill continues they'll watch the real thing unfold.

"It's pretty much going into Mexico but it could very well turn and go north into Texas," said Vaught.

Paying close attention to what's missing or needed in this exercise.

"It helps us become ready and know well we went though this drill we saw where our shortfalls were and now we need to capitalize on expanding our capabilities," Greco.

So if and when the real winds blow and the threat turns toward the Peach state, southwest Georgia's ready.

Through Wednesday Emergency managers will continue to hold conference calls, walking each region through the storm and its effects on Georgia. Each region will need to adapt as the storm unfolds to deal with the situations introduced.

The three day exercise will simulate pre-landfall, post-landfall, and demobilization activities associated with the onset of a major hurricane along the Georgia coast.  In 2004, several hurricanes dumped heavy rain in southwest Georgia causing flooding.

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